The Old Coot does a brain exercise

I tried an “Opposite Day” last week, to give my brain a workout, and boy it needed it. It’s a way to get unused neurons to fire and expand the brain’s capability. You just do common everyday things, opposite of what you would normally do. Things you don’t even think about when you’re doing them. It started early in the day, right after I got out of bed and slipped into a pair of pants. What leg goes in first? I did the opposite. I normally insert the belt starting on the left side. I did the opposite. It feels awkward when you feed it through the loops the “wrong” way. And then, you’re faced with a buckle that buckles backward. It’s doable, but you can tell it’s using a different part of your brain. A fuzzy feeling visits you as you do it.  

I put my watch on my left wrist. Realized that was normal; took it off and struggled to get it buckled on my right arm. I did a double take every time I checked the time; it was hard to get used to the watch being on the other wrist. It haunted me all through the day. The toothbrush was another challenge. I’m a righty, for the most part. Putting the toothbrush in my left and squeezing on the paste felt a little awkward, but not too bad. Most of the paste made it to the bristles, some on the handle. Then came Brusha, brusha, brusha, as sung in the old Ipana toothpaste ad. The toothbrush didn’t go through my cheek, but it came close. Those old, unused neurons in my brain were slow to catch on. I can’t complain too much; they’ve sat dormant for decades. I brushed my hair as though I was a lefty. It really felt weird, but not as weird as it looked when I was done.  

You do all this stuff without thinking. On opposite day you have to stop and think before you do anything. Even a simple task like walking up the stairs is a left-right thing. I always start with my right foot; I didn’t know that. Switching to a left foot start wasn’t an issue but did stimulate a few well-aged neurons. Cutting with scissors left-handed was a different story. Not only was it awkward, I discovered the scissors themselves were a problem; the edge is slanted for a right-handed cut. Something, I’m sure left-handed people are well aware of.  

Eating was a disaster. Soup was impossible; I had dribbles down my chin and all over my shirt; I couldn’t cut a pork chop worth a darn with the knife in my left hand and my fork delivery skills were on par with those of a two-year-old. If I stuck with this experiment, I’d have to spend the rest of my life eating sandwiches. The process did stimulate a ton of underused neurons though. I ended the experiment after trying to get on my bicycle from the right side, stepping on the pedal with my right foot and swinging my left leg over the seat. I didn’t quite make it. I ended up on the ground looking like a turtle on its back, struggling to roll over and get back up. I just lay there laughing my head off. It was the opposite of how I felt.  

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